Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Europe prepares to spin dodgy accounts

This email has landed in my intray today - by circuitous ways naturally,
Subject: Press kit Discharge 2006
Importance: High

Dear Members, dear advisors,

DG INFO, which I represent, would like to submit an idea for the forthcoming discharge procedure.

On November 13 in Strasbourg, the Court of Auditors will present its 2006 annual report. It is widely predicted that for the 14th time in a row, there will be no positive DAS.

In order to be "on par" with the Court & the Commission, which will both come up with carefully-crafted press packs, I would like to compile a 2006 discharge press kit of our own & need your help in that sense.

The idea is simple: based on your experience of business at Cocobu, you are invited in this press kit to present your views on the discharge and all its related aspects, including thus themes such as national declarations, methodology, the sampling method, etc.

The philosophy of this press kit is equally simple: one text per MEP, maximum 1 page A4, preferrably in English. Language should not be too technical and clearly present your main strategic ideas. It should be as short as possible, too: the more
creative ideas are often the simplest & shortest ones. Do not worry about the fact that we do not know the contents of the Annual report: it is the Court's & the Commission's niche, we should be more forward-looking.

Once completed, the press kit will be displayed in the Nov 13 Cocobu room and sent to the press.

So, I would kindly ask you:

1. if you're interested to participate
2. if you could provide me with your contribution by Thursday am of next week (ie it leaves you a full week to draft it)
3. if you're interested, if I can use photos (send them to me if you have some preferred one)

I am at your disposal for any question / query. A reminder will be sent on Monday.

With kind regards,
JY Loog

Jean-Yves LOOG
Press ServicePhone: +32.2.284 46 52
So yet again it appears that the European Court of Auditors will refuse to sign off the Commission's accounts. What is interesting is the institutional response. Here we have a Parliament press officer asking MEPs to get their rebuttals in early, indeed written a whole month before this news becomes official because they know that the annual spectacle of the Court of Auditor's Report is a running and embarrassing sore.

However we can see from the suggestions the official line to take (which will be worked on together with the Commission and the Court), "national declarations, methodology, the sampling method, etc".

The basic line is this; The Court of Auditors cannot sign off the accounts because it does not have access to the national spending of EU funds. Therefore in order to show how squeaky clean the EU is, what is required is that the CoA be granted audit oversight of national spending. Of course this would only be national spending which involves EU funds, not discreet national budgets. This is the Monnet method in miniature. There is no guarantee that they would indeed not gain oversight of in the UK's case, the National Audit Office. Given the breadth of current EU fiscal interests and spending in the individual nations then even with strict compliance with a rule barring CoA from looking into other spending the scope would be massive anyhow.

From an integrationist perspective this all makes perfect sense. Whether, as a supposedly sovereign nation we are happy to have the Court poking its nose into our business is a different matter.

For information this email was sent to members of the European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee, COCOBU. The Committee that infamously refused to meet a whistleblower because they were told by the Commission he was sick. The Commission works on a Catch 22 rule. All officials are happy to work here, the wages are good, the job is secure. You would have to be mad to be unhappy. Thus if you are unhappy and point out fraud (See Marta Andreasen, Robert McCoy, etc) then you must be sick. And of course sick people can make other people sick by their very presence). After all honesty is contagious.

Marta's own take on this is as follows,
"Once again the EP stands to hear the same story about the EU accounts as has been for the past 14 years. Nothing changes except the excuses from the Commission and the Court of Auditors that during the last 4 years have increasingly looked to put the responsibility some other place. And the EP happily continues to give discharge with the satisfaction of having done a good job just by writing a big discharge report with lots of demands for changes in the management of EU funds that nobody ever has respected."

1 comment:

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Is Cocobu pronounced "Cock & Bull" ?